Egypt to resume participation in Ethiopia Nile Basin Initiative office

Egypt and Sudan have reactivated their membership in one of the primary offices of the Nile Basin Initiative after a two-year absence, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry saidon its website Sunday.

The ministry said it considered the nations’ return to the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office a move toward dialogue and negotiation to avoid a serious conflict over the distribution of Nile water.

The decision came at a meeting of the Eastern Nile Council of Ministers last week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Egyptian Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa Eddin participated in the meeting.

Egypt, Ethiopia and eight other countries through which the river passes have been locked in more than a decade of contentious talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929.

Under this pact Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water a year, the lion's share of the Nile's total flow of around 84 billion cubic meters, despite the fact that some 85 percent of the water originates in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has built five large dams on the Nile in the last decade and has begun work on a US$1.4 billion hydropower facility. Cairo is wary of dam construction in upstream countries that could affect flows.

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